Thu, Jul 14, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Dreaded gangster caught after gunfight

GOTCHA Chang Hsi-ming was the most sought after criminal in Taiwan, and he had eluded police dragnets on four separate occasions. Now, his escapades are over

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Police officers smile after they successfully arrested notorious fugitive Chang Hsi-ming in Shalu Township, Taichung County yesterday.

PHOTO: TSAI CHIH-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

In another major victory for the nation's law enforcement officials, the notorious gangster Chang Hsi-ming (張錫銘) was arrested after a shootout with police in Shalu Township (沙鹿), Taichung County, yesterday.

Chang was shot at least twice in his left arm, and according to pictures provided by the police, he also had countless minor wounds all over his body. Police said that the wounds were probably from the gunfight.

Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) Detective Tang Jia-jen (唐嘉仁) was also wounded in the battle, although he suffered only a flesh wound to the neck.

Both Chang and Tang were described as being in good condition after receiving emergency medical treatment.

A man described as Chang's bodyguard, Lin Tai-heng (林泰亨), was also apprehended. However, Lin was shot in the head during the morning raid, and he was in critical condition as of press time yesterday.

Approximately half an hour after yesterday's raid began at 9am, the injured Lin was captured and immediately hurried to Taichung's Kuang Tien General Hospital (光田綜合醫院).

A few minutes later, the wounded Chang was also captured, then escorted to an ambulance and hurried to Tungs' General Hospital (童綜合醫院) for surgery. The CIB then sent a text message to reporters with the message: "The police have located and arrested Chang Hsi-ming at 308 Chung-hsing Road in Shalu Township a few minutes ago."

Chang is best known for his high-profile escape from a bungled police raid in July last year after a series of running gunbattles between his heavily armed gang and more than 1,000 police officers.

At the time, people were captivated by the dramatic television footage of the gangsters, wearing bulletproof vests and equipped with assault rifles, as they took hostages to cover their escape.

Chang, whose gang specialized in kidnapping for ransom, had escaped police dragnets on at least four occasions before.

But the "Evil Dragon" -- as he was dubbed by some media outlets -- and his band of outlaws have now been brought to heel.

Chang's arrest sent shivers of excitement through the government, and Cabinet Spokesman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) was so excited that he had difficulty speaking, and could barely finish his sentences during the regular press conference after the weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday morning.

"I believe that everybody is as excited as we are now," Cho said. "This is such an inspiration for our police officers and to my fellow Taiwanese people, as well."

According to the spokesman, during the breakfast before the Cabinet meeting, Minister of the Interior Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) told Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) in private that the police would launch the raid at 9am.

When Su got the message of good news, he immediately shared it with the premier. The premier then interrupted the meeting and made the announcement in front of the Cabinet.

"The applause was thundering for minutes," Cho said. He quoted the premier as having said: "This is the most perfect ending to this case."

Hsieh and Su then left for Taichung right after the meeting yesterday morning to congratulate the police, and visited Tang in person.

According to Cho, although Chang has been very cautious and has tried to stay low-profile during his flight from justice, police have "always" had an idea of his whereabouts, because he sent his henchmen to buy large quantities alcohol for him almost every day.

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